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tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  PBS  January 23, 2011 10:30am-11:00am EST

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♪ ♪ ♪ coming up, the gulan movement named for an influential turkish imam now living in pennsylvania who urges his followers to build schools instead of mosques. also, after the shootings in tucson, the political realities facing anyone wanting to put limits on guns. and james wolfensohn, the former president of the world bank on the importance of religious groups and international development. ♪ ♪ major funding for ethics and news weekly is provided by a private family foundation dedicated to its founders and christian religion, community development and education. additional funding by mutual of
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america, designing customized, individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. and the corporation for public broadcasting. welcome, i'm bob aber naeth. it's good to have you with us. president obama welcomed chinese president hu jintao to washington this week as several advocacy groups pushed the president to confront the chinese leader on human rights and religious freedom violations. protestors calling for a free tibet also gathered in front of the white house. >> for china and u.s. to work together as business equals. that's great, we're not against that at all and we don't think it should come at the expense of human rights. >> obama urged china to open up a dialogue with the dalai lama. he called universal rights essential to a universal success any prosperity. president hu said more needs to
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be done in china with human rights. real action must follow hu's words. the house of representatives voted this week to repeal the health care reform law, although that repeal has no chance of passing the senate which is controlled by democrats. wellicous groups who followed heavily for and against the law. several urged congress to keep the legislation intact. some conservative groups called for its repeal saying the law allows federal funding of abortion. in iraq, shiite pilgrims were targeted in another wave of deadly violence this week. at least 50 people were killed and nearly 200 others wounded when car bombs exploded at security checkpoints around the holy city of karbala. every year hundreds of thousands of shiite pilgrims visit karbala
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which is an important site in the centuries-old split between sunnis and shiites. in predominantly christian southern sudan, the official results are not in yet from last week's vote on whether to sus seed from the muslim north, but a preliminary count shows almost 99% voted for independents. the official results are expected in early february. in this count reit imam at the center of the controversy over the proposed islamic center near ground zero will no longer be front and center. imam fazul abdul raouf and his wife daisy kahn have been spokespeople for the park 51 project. they said it would oppose extremism and promote interfaith dialogue, but other organizers said they wanted a greater vocal on the community. while he remains on the board others will take over direction
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of the project which is still in the fund-raising stage. this past week in congress, democratic congresswoman carolyn mccarthy of new york introduced a bill that would ban the sale of all gun magazines that could hold more than ten bullets. the clip used in the tucson shootings held 30, but as the popularity of gun shows suggests, any attempt to tighten gun laws faces strong opposition. >> one man who understands the politics of gun legislation is paul helm key, president of the grady campaign against gun violence. he's a republican and was three times elected mayor of fort wayne, indiana. >> welcome to you. >> thanks, bob. >> what are the realities of this? a bill's going into the house and another one is going into the senate next week, but realistical realistically, does either one of them have any chance? >> i believe they do. i think this time there could be a different response.
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it was a member of congress that was attacked, that's one. secondly, the bill relates directly to the tucson shooting. the individual was stopped not because the police responded or someone else with the gun responded. he was stopped because the clip ran out of bullets, if -- the other thing is this shows how weak the laws in the books are. no laws were broken and no law was broken until he pulled the trigger the first time. this time they might treat this not as a second amendment wedge issue. they might treat this as a public safety issue and they banned cop killer bullets and plastic shops and maybe they say these high-capacity clips should also be banned. isn't it the case that the overwhelming majority of the american people, who the people in congress are supposed to represent feel that any restriction on gun ownership is wrong. >> and that's not true. the one poll that sometimes is used to say support for gun
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control is dropping say that now only 46 or 50% support stronger measures as opposed to 75% 15 or 20 years ago. a number of people support in general gun control and when you ask about specific measures and even licensing people to have guns like we license drivers, 66% support. background checks and also sales restrictions on semi-automatic weapons they have strong support. how about the mccarthy bill? >> we polled it eight different times. it's hard to find that kind of intensity for any kind of a question. >> this past week there was the announcement of a coalition of something like 24 religious groups to support some kind of gun -- >> faith's united to prevent gun violence was announced this past week on martin luther king day. the next day they were part of
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the news conference, and i think this is important. this is part of what will change the dynamic. we need leadership from the top. more importantly, we need people in the communities telling their elected officials do something about gun violence and the faith community plays such an important role in raising the moral issue and raising that issue and getting people to speak up. after the tucson shootings there was some comment about gun control from the people of the religious community and there was a lot of silence, too. did that disappoint you? >> the folks say wait until someone's out of the hospital or wait until the funerals are over. i say the same thing every day and we need more people saying the same thing. to allow 30,000 people to be killed by guns every year in this country and another 70,000 to be injured by guns every year in this country.
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to have this almost worship of guns that occurs and the violence that flows from that is something we shouldn't be top ra toleratesing in our society. >> i wrpt to a lutheran grade school growing up. we talked about non-violence. the story of the garden is put down that sword is what jesus is telling the disciple. that's the lesson we need to learn. it gets into how do we relate to our fellow man? do we feel that we're a community of faith and that you deal with the other or do we bring a gun to every confrontation? >> isn't it the case that there are a lot of religious people that like guns? >> i'm not anti-gun, but what the gun does to so many people like the tucson shooter, irresponsible people and we all
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fall short of the glory of god. even mccarthy's bill isn't talking about the gun. it's talking about the high-capacity ammunition and not used for personal protection and only used to kill a lot of people quickly. >> paul helm key, with the brady bill against gun violence. thanks. now a story on the gulan movement named for an influential turkish imam, fatula gulan now living in pen opinion. he preached that they should embrace, and they have started 1,000 schools in countries. >> his name is fa tullea gulan. he's a 69-year-old turkish islamic scholar apparently in poor health who came to the u.s. seeking medical treatment. he lives a secluded life at a retreat in pennsylvania. so why was he voted by his
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admirers in a survey by foreign policy magazine as the most significant intellectual in the world? among those admirers are kamal aksus. >> kind modest, humble, generous. we see him as a source of information, inspiration, but never prophet. he will be the one who will be troubled the most if he hears that followers or inspirers see him as prophet. >> personally, he is definitely very knowledgeable and very sincere in wanting the best for the people and not just turkey, but for all humanity. >> glen has inspired his followers to build school, provide humanitarian aid and engage in interfaith dialogue. university of houston professor helen iba who wrote a book on the gulan movement said the
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movement got its start when he started in turkey. >> he began preaching in the late '60s and early '70s in turkey. he said we don't need more madrassas. we need schools that will promote science and math and secular students. one can be modern and one can be scientific and still be a good islam. >> he says the gulan movement is different from fundamentalist islam because they expect all faiths and believe religion is compatible with science. >> i think it's fair to say that islam has had difficult ney coming to terms with modernity, and in that i think that the gulan movement offers a much more positive picture of what islam can be. ♪ ♪ gulan inspired volunteers to
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bring turkish culture with them. they sponsored an olympiad where students compete in turkish dance and song. they compete in ankara, turkey. there are more than 1,000 gulan-inspired schools in almost 100 countries. >> that lies at the core of this -- of this movement. to be a good muslim, you have to be well educated and to be a good muslim who participated in modernity meant to be cognizant and well educated in science, math and technology. >> education helps you overcome ignorance, poverty, corruption, extremism, whatever, all illnesses of the society because the education is very important. >> need another number. a big number. >> in texas there are 33 nationally recognized public charter schools with over 16,000 students grades k through 12. they're called harmony schools
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and the turk irk superintendent say they are struckly secular and in no way connected to gulan. there is a reason for this sensitivity. >> think a lot of that is related to the islamophobia in the country. i think there's a lot of fear that islam is trying to take hold of this country and countries around the world that it's trying to spread itself. >> about 60% of the kids in the texas harmony schools come from disadvantaged neighborhoods. the schools say they have 100% graduation rate. no wonder there are 21,000 kids on the waiting list. >> i think it's an extensive way -- with respect to education. in the three high schools that had graduating seniors this year only three student his not already been admitted to a four-year college by the time of
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graduation. >> i have students at 7:00 at night, 8:00 at night who are also working at night from home. >> they know our expectations for them from kindergarten through high school saying our goal is to get you into college. >> i have never worked harder, but it's -- i mean, you really see the results because the parents are very involved. the kids really respond. >> gulan, not only he urges teachers to go and work at these schools. on the other hand, he urges people from all walks of life to go and support all these schools, build up schools instead of mosques. build up universities instead of mosques. build up cultural centers, interstate organizations, aid organizations, hospitals instead of mosques. >> supporters say gulan owns nothing himself, but has persuaded others to give generously to many independent
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organizations. >> the movement has become quite wealthy. it has private hospitals and it has all these private schools. there's a big media industry, one of the biggest in turkey. it has the newspaper. kimsee is one of the relief organization. they help disaster victims all over the world and in the u.s., helping hands contributed $20 tourz in & gulan urged businessmen to give a part of their earnings, as much as a third to support humanitarian aid and education. >> the movement is financed not only by these wealthy businessmen, but more importantly it's financed by everybody in the movement. everybody contributes and the average seemso be about 10%.
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>> i go beyond the expected level in my income level and all of this, my motivation is that god loves us as human beings. we also should act in a manner that is pleasing to god, and i believe that all of these action, charitable donations are pleasing to god. that's why i'm doing all of this. >> he is in charge of the institute for interfaith dialogue in houston, which is located in the raindrop turkish house. this is a projected center, which will include a jewish synagog synagogue, a mob and christian church he has never understood the, that he reached out to leaders of many religious minorities. he may have been the first muslim lead tore condemn the 11 terrorist attacks. >> he immediately posted that,
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clearly saying it is abanti-islamic act. it is a human act. they can't even be called human. he said bin laden is a monster and people around him are monsters if they think like him. >> he says gulan teaches that suicide attacks cannot be justified in islam. >> some people try to justify the killings, homicidal killings saying that they don't have any other means and this is not a few, it cannot be the muslim's thinking because if the end result and the end goal is virtuous, worthwhile, holy and then the mechanism and the means should also be holy. >> professor iba says it would do better by placing women in leadership roles. rgolan is not without his
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critics. the big issue in turkey for the critics, it's a fear that the movement is becoming very powerful, very wealthy and that there's a sub rosa agenda to create an islamic state and they always compare it to iran. >> i think there's no warrant to the charges that golan wants to take over and impose sharia law. >> i think that, frankly, is an absurd fear. >> it is a civil society movement. >> sometimes they're accused of being a missionizing entity, and i don't know if anyone or otherwise would have turned into a muslim. >> for the time being both kredices and admires. for religion and ethics news weekly i'm lucky severson in houston.
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we have a conversation today with investment banker james wolfensohn who was president of the world bank from 1995 to 2005. during those years he opened an unprecedented dialogue with religious groups. wolfensohn was born in australia and is now a u.s. citizen and he's written an autobiography known as a glowing life. kim spoke with him. >> during his decade as president of the world bank he was a force to be rec owned with. while he was praised to help the world's poor, people were protesting against him for not doing enough, wolfensohn sparked an unprecedented international conversation about poverty and development. i asked him if he believes the united states has a moral obligation to help poorer countries. >> personally, i believe so, and it is the stated intention of
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just about every president to make a contribution on the field of poverty and on the field of development, and i think they make an assumption that the nation agrees with that. >> promoting international development is not only the right thing to do, he says, but the practical one as well. >> i regard it as a moral responsibility. i think also, though, in terms of peace and security on our planet it's important to have economic development because countries moving forward economically turn to other countries. >> with relentless recession and high unemployment rate, wolfensohn acknowledges it could be difficult to convince americans that they still should send aid to other countries. >> at a time like that we tend to look inward to see how we can do something that can solve our own problems and what you can't do is forget outside of the country to deal with that.
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wolfensohn raised eyebrowss for creating a dialogue with the international religious community. >> a very substantial part of aid to people in poverty goes through religious organizations. and so it occurred to me that if we could get a dialogue with the people that were interested in development and religious leaders, we might have the basis for far greater cooperation and far greater understanding. >> it was a hard sell within the world bank itself and in that culture? >> they thought i was mad. they had to be quite honest. i shouldn't say all, but i don't think i had a lot of support. one of the great things at the world bank is if you're president of and if you have quite a lot of discretion on what you do and i would have to say that personally, i found amongst the most important
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initiatives that i took, very little was talked about that way. >> on three separate occasions, wolfensohn and other bank officials met with other religious leaders to discuss how they can work together to address local poverty. >> it was nice for me as a nice jewish boy from australia bringing together all these business leaders. >> he accomplished a lot. >> we started talking. as you know, better than i they don't always share secrets with each other because, in a sense there is a competitive element amongst religious leaders, but when you get to the question of humanity and the question of poverty, i found that the competitive element disappeared and we were able to talk about these fundamental humanitarian issues on a very even basis. >> the meetings planted seeds for religious activism that continues, such as a massive
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interfaith march in development goals to alleviate poverty. wolfensohn believes such efforts should continue. >> the next broadly based akis to the developing world is through religious people. there are more of them out there. they've been there longer. they know the countries. they all sit in big headquarters and they're out in the field and it is a tragedy, and the overall development process. >> wolfensohn is still active in international development issues and one of his priority projects is an initiative helping train young arabs to get jobs. he is also concerned that young americans be prepared for a globalized future. >> we have to really revamp our education system and not just in map and science which i think i should, but in terms of
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humanities and in terms of where our kids are going in the world and we're just not training them. >> the world is getting smaller, he says, and america can't afford to ignore that. i'm kim lawton in washington. >> on our calendar this week it's new year's for tibetan buddhists. the holiday begins on wednesday. celebrations include traditional dancing and other ceremonies. finally, thousands of orthodox christians gathered on both sides of the jordan river this week to celebrate epiphany when they com pmemorate the birth da of jesus. on the west bank side pilgrim his to coordinate their visit with the military. they opened a tourism sent on their side as well, but there may be a problem. activists say the site is still littered with land mines.
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it's been working to clear away mines. it will be a completely mind-free zone. that's our program for now. i'm bob abernathy. we want to hear from you, you can comment on our website and share them. audio and video podcasts are available, find us on twitter, youtube and find us any time anywhere on smartphones and iphones with our mobile web app. join us at pbs.org. as we leave you, more from the turkish olympiad in houston. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ community development and education. additional funding by mutual of america, designing customized, individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company, and the corporation for public broadcasting.
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